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Small Business Help For Trades Professionals
Living The Professional Trades Dream
When you become a trades professional, you can be pretty sure of always have a steady stream of work. After all, there’s always someone who needs a builder, a plumber, an electrician, a decorator, a joiner or a plasterer.
Whilst it all sounds straightforward, you may need to get some small business help is required to get there.
Running a trades business is much more than simply showing up and fixing a drain or plastering a hallway. You have a reputation to uphold, suppliers to manage, there are leads to follow up on and invoices to send out – you may even have a team to manage or apprentices to train.
Reputations Are Hard Won But Easily Lost
In a world of professional trades like plumbing and joinery, reputations are hard-won and easily lost. A few missteps and you could quickly be labelled a ‘cowboy’. Taking on too many jobs can leave clients dissatisfied with your services. And sticking to the old, inefficient methods of managing a business can lead to chaos, with plummeting profits and a reputation you can’t recover.
In the competitive world of trades, there’s no excuse for being stuck in the past. You wouldn’t use ancient tools or outdated methods to rewire a home or fit a kitchen – so why would you use an inefficient system to run your business?
The 9 Essential Steps To Growing Your Trades Business
It’s time to get your people, pricing, paperwork and practices working successfully for you.
Here, we share 9 essential steps that you need to take to grow your trades business with less hassle and bigger profits.
1. Have A Clear Pricing Structure
By having a clear pricing structure as well as being able to make and receive payments efficiently you will be able to get paid faster and attract return customers.
If your prices are constantly fluctuating and you spend half your time chasing cash payments, making it difficult to plan for the future?
Simply put, you can’t grow your trades business without understanding your margins and your cash flow.
Cash flow is one of the biggest issues facing smaller businesses in the modern-day.
Research has shown that poor cash flow can cripple as many as 70% of small businesses, with late payments from customers often the biggest problem.
Making smart use of technology will help streamline all of your pricing and payment concerns.
You need one simple solution that tracks all your work, including pending proposals, payments due and profits for the month, quarter and the year.
You can identify cash flow problems immediately. And send out late payment reminders at the touch of a button.
With the correct small business help, you can wave goodbye to paperwork piled high on desks and files spilling out of metal cabinets.
Say hello to a better organisation, less hassle and a greater number of prompt payments.
2. Deliver High Communication Levels
When things are hectic around the office, it’s easy for important details to fly under the radar. Perhaps a client asked for a rescheduled appointment, a renewed quote or a change to the job they originally wanted.
If you don’t have the right levels of communication in place, these requests can easily go missing in the piles of paper or endless messages left with different team members.
Good customer service comes from great communication – no matter what sector you work in.
Advanced business management technology today means that every communication you make with your clients can be logged, so nothing gets lost in translation.
Checking in with clients is made easy, and all of their details – from schedules and appointments to quote tracking and site photos – can be accessed in just a few clicks or taps. That’s how great customer service is achieved.
3. Why Job Management & Scheduling Is Essential
As your reputation improves and business picks up, you might find yourself struggling to slot in new customers and straining to ensure your existing jobs are completed on time.
This is where having a job management and scheduling system in place can really help.
A job management system can help you to keep on top of your growing list of jobs, whilst keeping up with communications both in house and out.
Additionally, you will be able to have an overview of your business and see where any expansion is possible, without compromising on quality.
As a result, you will be able to grow your customer list and improve efficiency.
All of this, because you stepped up your job management and scheduling abilities with the help of smart, easy-to-use technology.
4. How To Protect & Manage Your Reputation
Whatever business you’re in – whether you’re a plumber, a contractor, a kitchen fitter, a painter, a gardener, a decorator or an electrician – reputation can make or break you in this industry.
Receiving a bad review on checkatrade or poor word-of-mouth from a valued customer can massively damage your reputation and may even stop you from finding more work.
It’s essential that you remain in control of your reputation.
Celebrate the good feedback and reward clients for their loyalty.
Follow-up on poor reviews or negative feedback and ask what can be done to improve the situation.
As a business owner, your reputation is one of your most powerful assets. So you can’t afford to let it slide through poor organisation skills or management capabilities.
Did you know that 8 out of 10 people trust online recommendations, like those they read on checkatrade, just as much as a personal recommendation? So, you’ll want to stay on top of comments from all sources to keep your reputation at the standard you expect.
5. Understanding & Systemising Project Workflows
Every business needs a workflow. A workflow gives you a crucial insight into the path a customer takes with your business. From their first enquiry right up to the final invoice.
This simple, stage-by-stage process provides a roadmap for every single job you complete, and it covers every base.
Designing your workflow can be challenging, and it may take a little trial and error to hit on the magic recipe for client satisfaction and optimum productivity.
But once you find that perfect combination, you’ll start to notice jobs run seamlessly, from beginning to end.
Having a workflow can also help reduce micromanagement, which can be a real problem for first-time business owners.
There’s no need for management to spend time monitoring and supervising every little task.
If you’ve provided the roadmap, and you’re confident in it, you can sit back and relax as your employees simply follow the steps.
Hassle is immediately reduced, and you can focus on growth and achievement, rather than simply treading water.
Having the right technology to hand is vital in producing your workflow, and having staff follow the procedure.
Over time, you’ll start to streamline the workflow, even more, removing irrelevant or redundant tasks and becoming even more efficient.
The more efficient you are, the more time, money and hassle you’ll save – simple.
6. Increase Efficiency With Mobile Management On-Site
Every business owner would love to have the ability to be in two places at once.
Unfortunately, technology hasn’t reached that point yet – but mobile management capability does allow business owners to keep tabs on everything that’s happening on-site, even if they’re not actually there in person.
The benefits of using on-site mobile management tools are clear. Allowing you to:
- Keep an eye on what’s going on at multiple sites, so if you have jobs running concurrently, you remain fully informed and in control of all of them.
- Keep in touch with team members at each site.
- Monitor related orders and notes, as well as sharing photos and other important documents.
If you’re not already using a mobile management tool, the question is: why not?
These solutions make the lives of business owners ten times easier – and the results of this heightened control will be clear when you come to take a look at your profits.
7. Why Team Training Provides More Than Just A Positive ROI
Most successful trades businesses these days are not totally sole traders.
You need a team of talented and dedicated people around you to grow your business and see those profits rise.
Your team represent your business on every level. Their work reflects on your brand, and their attitude reveals your own business ethos.
That’s why it’s so important to invest proper time and energy into team training.
Every one of your team members should be trained and coached to a high level – the same level you would expect of a tradesman entering your own home.
You also need to be able to manage the training of your staff and keep up-to-date with how much training they’ve completed.
This will help you to allocate staff members to jobs which might require certain training or a specific qualification.
For example – do you have enough trained first-aiders on your construction site?
Getting the balance of qualified professionals and labourers right is so important when it comes to working safely, and providing the highest standard of service to clients.
You’ll also be able to start choosing staff based on their suitability for certain jobs, rather than simply their availability.
8. Why You Need A Clear Business Growth Strategy
Having a business strategy is vital for growth.
When running a trades business, it can be tempting to simply ‘wing it’.
After all, once you build a name for yourself, the jobs will start rolling in and you’ll naturally start to grow – right?
This might be the case for one lucky business in every hundred, with unexpected success landing on their doorstep.
But the other ninety-nine needs to have concrete growth strategies in place if they want to see improvements.
Think about the most successful business you know, both large and small.
They’ve all leveraged the power of a good business strategy to get to where they are today – and you can, too.
The importance of a well-developed business strategy is clear. However to be able to develop a strategy you will need to gather your business data all in one place.
This will then allow you to see
- The areas in which your business has improved
- Set benchmarks against which to measure your successes
- Compare data to see your achievements.
Having small business help and a strong business strategy also helps you to future-proof your business.
In creating your strategy, you’ll be forced to look at external factors and examine how they will affect you and your service.
In this competitive industry, where you adapt or lose out, it’s increasingly important to understand which external factors might trigger some kind of evolution.
Analysing the current climate and creating your business strategy can also help you identify new opportunities for growth.
Perhaps you’ll tap into a market you hadn’t previously considered, or discover demand for an up-and-coming service which you and your team can provide.
As we said, the importance of a good business strategy is crystal clear.